Library Mice Reviews from a children's book enthusiast Thu, 05 Dec 2019 15:38:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Illustrators: Judith Kerr Thu, 05 Dec 2019 15:38:11 +0000 Joanna Carey
(Thames & Hudson)

Part of The Illustrators series (whose consultant is Sir Quentin Blake), this is a wonderful celebration of one of Britain’s most beloved and cherished picturebook makers, Judith Kerr. In this tome, readers are given access to a extensive selection of Kerr’s art, including very early drawings saved by her mother as they fled Germany,  and photographs from her personal life. The text that accompany them has an enjoyable conversational tone while being very informative, and overall this gives a fascinating overview of Kerr’s extraordinary life. It is a real celebration of her incredible legacy as well as her genuinely wonderful, witty and sharp character, as her last picturebook Mummy Time showcases so brilliantly. There is much to love and celebrate about Judith Kerr and Joanna Carey has done a great job at creating a book that does just that.

Note: the book went to print before Judith Kerr’s passing in May and therefore does not mention it.

The Illustrators is a beautifully produced series which is well worth investigating by anyone interested in art and illustration as well as children’s literature. Other books on the series focus on Posy Simmonds, Ludwig Bemelmans, and Walter Crane. A volume on Dick Bruna is due in the Spring.



Source: review copy from publisher

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Picture Book of the week monthly recap: October 2019 Fri, 01 Nov 2019 08:00:24 +0000 The Fate of Fausto
Oliver Jeffers
(HarperCollins Children’s Books)

There was once a man who believed he owned everything and set out to survey what was his ….” So begins Oliver Jeffers’ latest picturebook, a longer narrative, which despite being originally written in 2015, sadly resonates very true in today’s world: Fausto is greedy, throws tantrums, harbours a rather epic sense of self-importance, and has total disregard for nature and those around him. The book was created using traditional methods at the lithography press Idem Editions in Paris, and the finished product is truly stunning. The astute use of negative space leaves plenty of room for inferring and pondering. This is Jeffers at his best: smart, witty, with an incredible knack for pacing. Fausto’s ultimate undoing will not feel cruel even to young readers. His talent  for creating  multi-layered narratives never ceases to amaze. There are few illustrators that truly appeal to adults and children alike, and Oliver Jeffers is most definitely one of them.


Just Because
Mac Barnett  & Isabelle Arsenault
(Walker Books)

All parents have been there: having tricky, often quite existential, questions thrown at you at the most inopportune moment. This little girl has a lot of questions for her dad, just as she is supposed to go to sleep. What is the rain? Why do birds fly south for the winter? Each spread showcasing a question is set similarly: the girl and her dad on the right,  and a huge coloured circle including her question on the left page . Each  is intermitted with a illustrated version of her father’s fantastical answers. The reader’s viewpoint eventually opens up to unveil the rest of the girl’s bedroom, discovering the inspiration for her questions. The wonderful 1950s retro feel is rendered by Arsenault’s  style and choice of decor but also with her beautiful use of colour, using predominantly pastel colours over grayscale. The message of the final spread is marvellous and there is a drop of the essence of childhood  in this narrative that really is delightful.


Pick a Pumpkin
Patricia Toht  & Jarvis
(Walker Books)

The imminence of Halloween always brings a flurry of themed picturebooks to the market, often all a bit samey. But there is something a little special  and different about this new collaboration between Patricia Toht and Jarvis however. Focusing on a family’s celebration of Halloween, from the day they pick a pumpkin from the patch to the evening every one comes together to celebrate, the poetic narrative and luscious artwork (the play with light and colour is absolutely stunning, particularly the three final spreads) come together beautifully to create a really lovely story. By focusing on Halloween as a family occasion, Toht and Jarvis have created a more enduring tale, one with all the ingredients to become a firm family favourite to treasure and reread annually. It is gentle, cozy, full of warmth and perfect to read in those dark October evenings, especially with a yummy cup of hot chocolate .


The House of Madame M
Clotilde Perrin
translated  by Daniel Hahn
(Gecko Press)

Imagine opening the most peculiar, slightly macabre Victorian cabinet of curiosities; that’s what delving into Clotilde Perrin’s latest large format picturebook feels a bit like. As the reader steps into each room, there are plenty of unusual things to uncover under the flaps and some many things to discover, many of which may not become obvious until several readings. The story is all the more unsettling due to the fourth wall being broken: the narrator is talking to the reader, the reader is the one stepping through the rooms of Madame M’s creepy abode.  This is a book that older readers will particularly enjoy—not because it is too scary for younger readers, but because of all the intertextual links, philosophical references and other clever elements in the visual narrative: a painting of Persephone, the “once upon a time” clock, the thought-provoking Vanities painting  etc … so many things to discover, discuss and come back to. It is brilliantly clever and eerie!




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BLOG TOUR: “Michelle Obama: The Fantastically Feminist (and Totally True) Story of the Inspirational Activist and Campaigner” by Anna Doherty Tue, 29 Oct 2019 17:38:55 +0000 I loved The Brontës, which was the inaugural title for Anna Doherty’s series Fantastically Feminist series and was really pleased to find out that there was to be a new volume on Michelle Obama:  The Fantastically Feminist (and Totally True) Story of the Inspirational Activist and Campaigner (Wren & Rook). You don’t really get more empowering and inspiring a woman than this! From her childhood in Chicago to her post-First Lady work, this is a brilliant, vibrant and energetic biography. I love Anna Doherty’s approach to non-fiction. Her mixed media artwork, her use of a single colour (purple in this case), her quirky drawings bring the biographical information in a way that is so attractive. Think about Christmas: you could buy Michelle Obama’s Becoming for the parent, and this one for the child; it would make a lovely shared reading experience!
I really love this series (and cannot wait for the volume on Emma Watson die out next year) and I am delighted that as part of the blog tour, we have been allowed a little peek in Anna’s creative process:




Thank you for letting us have a peek in your work, Anna!

Don’t forget to follow the rest of the blog tour:










Michelle Obama:  The Fantastically Feminist (and Totally True) Story of the Inspirational Activist and Campaigner is out now and can be purchased here.


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BLOG TOUR: “It’s a No-Money Day” by Kate Milner Tue, 22 Oct 2019 07:16:21 +0000 I was lucky enough to interview Kate Milner two years ago when her first picturebook, My Name is Not Refugee, was published (see here) and I am delighted to be able to showcase Kate’s latest picturebook, It’s a No-Money Day (Barrington Stoke) today.
I kind of think of Kate as the Ken Loach of the picturebook world: the themes she chooses to focus on are tough and hard-hitting, and she never shies away from the reality of those situations, yet her storytelling is poignant and humane. It is not easy to talk about a subject such as poverty, hunger and the reality of food banks in twenty-first century Britain; Kate does this brilliantly and this book needs to be available in every school, everywhere, whether it is in deprived areas so children can see they are not alone, or privileged neighbourhoods so children can realise than no every one is quite as lucky.


As part of the blog tour, Kate has made a little video introducing the book for us:


Thank you so much Kate!

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the mini-blog tour:



It’s a No-Money Day is out now and you can purchase a copy here.


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Five Fabulous Books About People (or Fish) Who Are in Big Trouble by Jon Agee Thu, 10 Oct 2019 07:04:57 +0000 Today, some very lucky children in Ipswich will be taking part in an event with Jon Agee as part of the The Children’s Book Show.

Jon Agee is the author and illustrator of many acclaimed books for children, including ALA Notable Books Little SantaTerrificMilo’s Hat TrickNothingThe Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau, and the Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor winner It’s Only Stanley.  He is also the creator of a series of popular wordplay books, notably, the collection of palindromes: Go Hang a Salami! I’m a Lasagna Hog!  Two of his picturebooks have been published in the UK by Scallywag Press this year, The Wall in the Middle of the Book, and Life on Mars.



The Wall in the Middle of the Book is endorsed by Amnesty International as a book that ‘celebrates freedom of movement and thought’, and it is to see why. With an ingenious use of the book gutter,the book offers a simple yet clever  take on many very current  themes such as making assumptions, the fear of strangers and the absurdity of creating walls, whether physical or ideological, as borders. It is seamlessly multi-layered, allowing the youngest readers to simply enjoy the silliness of the knight and of the left side of the wall while others will be left to ponder on the more covert themes.


In Life on Mars, a young astronaut  arrives on Mars determined to find life and prove to all that he is right. However things don’t go quite to plan for him. With a clever use of dramatic irony à la Rosie’s Walk , the visual slapstick humour will definitely tickle little readers while the slight sense of entitlement from the astronaut won’t be lost on the more astute reader.


Those are two brilliant picturebooks; funny, clever and a joy to read aloud!

I am so delighted to be welcoming Jon to Library Mice for our latest instalment of Fabulous Five:

Five Fabulous Books About People (or Fish)
Who Are in Big Trouble

by Jon Agee


Moon Man
Tomi Ungerer (1967)

The man in the moon, gazing down at human beings singing and dancing, decides to hitch a ride on a passing comet and visit Earth. He is not greeted kindly, and soon he is on the lam. Things look bleak until he stumbles upon an old castle, where he meets a long-forgotten scientist, who happens to be building a spacecraft to go to the moon. Tomi Ungerer is one of the great picture book creators of the 1970’s, and this is one of his best.


Sylvester and the Magic Pebble
William Steig (1969)

This is a classic. A donkey is in trouble. He has accidentally turned himself into a rock, and there is no way he can turn back into a donkey unless somebody picks up a nearby magic pebble and wishes he was a donkey again. Improbable? Yes. But William Steig pulls off a story that is thrilling, deeply moving, and ultimately, a testament to the power of love.


John Patrick Norman McHennessy
John Burningham (1987)

John Patrick Norman McHennessy is in trouble. He’s late to school again. One morning he is delayed by a lion, the next by an alligator. The headmaster is irate. I’m a big fan of John Burningham books, even some of his more obscure efforts, like Aldo and Cloud People. JPNM is a favorite. It has that combination of Burningham’s understated text with the absurd goings-on, a surprising ending, and pictures that are, as usual, audacious and beguiling.


Jules Feiffer (1997)

Raymond is in trouble. He has figured out a way to magically switch – or “meanwhile” – from his humdrum reality to a comic book world of pirates, cowboys and spaceships. Problem is, the new scenes he enters turn out to be wildly dangerous, and when Raymond tries to “meanwhile”, he can’t seem to get out of the loop. This was Jules Feiffer’s debut picture book, and I was impressed. He was already a legendary cartoonist, and “Meanwhile”, fittingly, is a beautiful tribute to the comic strip. The book is told is quasi comic book form, with seamless sequential images, a masterful interplay of text and talk balloons, and the pacing, right to the last word, is breathless.

This is Not My Hat
Jon Klassen (2012)

A little fish is in trouble, way more trouble than it imagines. I was a fan of this book from the very start, before it won all of its accolades. It features three distinct underwater characters, a forest of beautifully translucent seaweed, and a bold use of black for the sea. The relationship between the words and pictures is intentionally contradictory, creating tension and lots of laughs. It’s an elegant book to look at, and hilarious to read out loud.


Thank you so much Jon for such a wonderful selection!

The Wall in the Middle of the Book and Life on Mars are both out now and can be purchased here.



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BLOG TOUR: My Pet Star Thu, 22 Aug 2019 06:47:35 +0000 Corrinne Averiss (text) & Rosalind Beardshaw (artwork)
(Orchard Books)

When a little girl finds a fallen star underneath a tree, she decides to nurse him back to health with kindness and care. The two become firm friends but Star doesn’t feel quite at home in the hut. So the little girl decides to do what is best for her friend…
This a gorgeous  story of friendship, caring for those who need us but also being able to do what is best for the people we love, even if it is hard. The rhyming text is melodic and succinct, making it a perfect bedtime story. The language oozes kindness and childhood wonder (“cosmic super-vet” being a favourite) and is a perfect match to Beardshaw’s lovely soft lines and comforting style. The colour palette in this book is wonderful, particularly the lovely night skies. Showing the Star is getting increasingly brighter as the girl cares for it is a great way to express empathy for the youngest readers. My Pet Star is a lovely addition to a preschooler’s library.

I am so delighted to welcome Rosalind to Library Mice, having been an admirer of her work for many years! Ros has illustrated many books for children. These include the award-winning Lulu series (Alanna Books) and the National Trust’s A Walk in the Countryside series (Nosy Crow). She lives in York with her family.



My favourite childhood reads
by Rosalind Beardshaw


My Pet Star was a dream for me to illustrate, I loved the story by Corrinne Averiss, on the first read. Straight away I felt excited, especially as I could create a whole little world for the girl and her star, full of the things I love. It was always the details from books that I read as a child that drew me in.
I used to visit my Dad every Saturday, on his shelves were some illustrated books I remember pouring over, time and time again.
Father Christmas by Raymond Briggs was one of them. Still to this day I revisit that book. I absolutely adore how Briggs put in so many details that made Father Christmas’s home so cosy, and that’s how I feel when I read it. I wanted the little girls world from My Pet Star to feel the same way.
Similarly, The Snowman by Raymond Briggs was another favourite from my Dad’s shelf. The love and care the boy has for the Snowman is so beautifully depicted. Inspired by this book, I wanted the girl and her Pet Star to have a similar bond, for there to be lots of warmth between them.
I was a massive fan of The Famous Five by Enid Blyton when I was young, as is my 8 year old daughter, Iris. We’re reread them (twice!) recently. I particularly loved Five Go Off in a Caravan in the series, and have always loved the idea of living in one, or a shepherd’s hut ever since. It seemed like a perfect place for the main character in My Pet Star to live, small, cosy and just the right size for her and her star…



Many thanks, Ros!

My Pet Star is out now and you can buy a copy here.
Follow the rest of the blog tour:


All illustrations © Rosalind Beardshaw

Source: review copy received from publisher


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BLOG TOUR: “A Planet Full of Plastic” by Neal Layton Fri, 28 Jun 2019 06:52:13 +0000 In A Planet Full of Plastic (Wren & Rook) Neal Layton introduces children to the current and vital topic of plastic pollution. The book covers many topics within the theme, from the history of the creation of plastic, to biodegradation and to what we can do to reverse the problem. It is extremely informative, detailed yet simple enough for young audiences, and never preachy.  What works really well is the mixed media artwork; Layton uses photographs of plastic items in situ, so to speak, as part of the illustrations, creating spreads which are particularly impactful. This underwater spread, for example, is particularly effective:

Discovering the identity of the narrator at the end of the book is a lovely touch which children will really enjoy. This is an important book, which will work well both at home (for example following the creative ideas at the back of the book, including building one own’s greenhouse as detailed below) and at school as part of creating well-rounded, responsible citizens. A brilliant addition to bookshelves in both settings!



Build Your Own Mini Greenhouse


To celebrate the publication of A Planet Full of Plastic – a brand new non-fiction picture book by author-illustrator Neal Layton, I’ll be telling you how to help your little ones get involved in reusing plastic bottles by helping them make their very own miniature greenhouse. Miniature greenhouses are a great use for plastic bottles that would otherwise end up in our rivers and seas and the excitement of watching their very own plants grow is an added bonus for children.


You will need:

  • Scissors
  • A large plastic bottle
  • Seeds
  • Compost
  • An old plastic container
  • A skewer


  1. Peel the label off the large plastic bottle, keep the cap on top of the bottle and cut it into two pieces around 4 inches from the bottle’s base.
  2. Poke 2-4 holes in the bottom of the bottle with a skewer for drainage.
  3. Wash both pieces of the bottle in warm and soapy water to ensure they are clean.
  4. Balance the bottom piece of the bottle in an old plastic container and fill half of it up with compost.
  5. Water the soil until it is evenly moist and empty the plastic container of any excess water that drips through.
  6. Place your seeds in a spread out arrangement on the damp compost and cover with more compost.
  7. Cut a small slit in the top half of the bottle and slip it over the bottom half as a ‘lid’, this will create a miniature greenhouse effect to help the seeds germinate.
  8. Remove the cap from the top of the bottle to allow some air circulation once the seed germinate.
  9. Once seedlings appear move the bottle to an area that receives 6-8 hours of sunlight daily.
  10. Water the seedlings when the soil surface dries, remove the top half of the bottle if it develops condensation or once the seedlings grow tall enough to touch it.



A Planet Full of Plastic by Neal Layton is published by Wren and Rook. You can buy the book here

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the blog tour:


Source: review copy sent by publisher

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Why You Should Read Children’s Books, Even Though You Are So Old and Wise Sat, 15 Jun 2019 08:36:21 +0000 Katherine Rundell

Fellow children’s literature appreciators have all experienced the following, when stepping out of their echo chambers: the slight bewilderment of others when they learn that you read children’s literature. That bewildered expression often turns to aghast when you confess that you have studied it, or worse, that you read /study picturebooks. Yes, yes, those people exist. Look beyond your Twitter feed for a minute and the reality of it punches square in the face. Alternatively you could read this article viagra for women for sale uk billigaste viagra pfizer, if you dare. Admittedly it might be outdated (2001) but the misplaced snobbiness of it will bemuse you, or anger you, depending how your day is going. Anyway, Katherine Rundell is here to save us from yet another awkward conversation, because this  teeny tiny perfectly formed tome can easily be thrust into such people’s hands. She talks sense. A lot of sense. She writes beautifully ( this will come as no surprise to you  if you are a  children’s literature enthusiast), with real heart, about her own relationship with reading,  stories and writing, about the importance of libraries, but also about the history of children’s literature, the importance of fairy tales (she writes of them that they are “a way of tracing our cultural evolution”, which is splendidly put) and of course what it is that makes children’s literature so special:  its subversive nature, its cornucopia of hope, imagination and optimism, observing that “Children’s books say: the world is huge. They say: hope counts for something. They say: bravery will matter, love will matter.” (48) Life experiences might sometimes tell us otherwise, but in times of turmoil, it is worth being reminded of that. In the end, Rundell reminds us that stories are for everyone, and that what is important is that it talks to you, that you find yourself in them:



A perfect definition of the reading experience in a truly delightful and inspiring essay.



Why You Should Read Children’s Books, Even Though You are So Old and Wise is available exclusively in independent bookshops as part of Independent Bookshop Week, and will be on general release on 8th August.



Review copy kindly sent by the publisher on request


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Read for Empathy Blog Tour: Louise Greig Tue, 04 Jun 2019 07:07:19 +0000


Today I am hosting the Read for Empathy blog tour, which celebrates books that help develop empathy, in the build-up to Empathy Day which takes place on June 11th. Empathy Day was founded in 2017 by not-for-profit EmpathyLab. It aims to drive a new empathy movement, inspired by research showing that humans are not born with a fixed quantity of empathy – it’s a skill we can learn. The profile of this now annual event has rocketed, fuelled by concerns about a growing societal empathy deficit. Young people are growing up amidst an increasingly divisive public discourse, with online lives which can limit face-to-face human connection and expose them to casual cruelty.
Empathy Day is a lightning rod for a new story-driven empathy movement.


I am delighted to welcome Louise Greig as part of the tour to talk about her picturebook Sweep, illustrated by Júlia Sardà, which is part of the 2019 Read for Empathy Guide.  Louise  lives in Aberdeen with her husband where she writes children’s picture books and poetry.  She loves nature, wildlife and words in equal measure. You can find her on Twitter


by Louise Greig


Let’s start with a confession.  Sometimes in art a brush stroke or an idea results in a ‘happy coincidence’ with a serendipitous outcome beyond the artist’s or author’s original intention.  And so it was with Sweep.  It would be easy for me to take credit for the praise the book has received but, in reality, I only saw it as a simple story of a temper tantrum I hoped would resonate with readers.  In fact, it’s hardly a story at all – just a metaphor wrapped in a pile of leaves.

It was therefore a lovely surprise to discover the book was being used by teachers, parents and psychologists in many countries as a practical tool to help children recognise and deal with anger, anxiety and other difficult emotional issues.  The Picture Book Blogger buy viagra with e check buy viagra 10mg online summed it up nicely:  “Possibly one of the most deceptively simple, but also most powerfully executed books we’ve seen on handling, recognising and confronting overwhelming emotions”.   Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best!



Reading has long been recognised as a way of promoting empathy by allowing readers to explore the world far beyond their own realm of experience and so see and understand other peoples’ points of view.  This is important in the modern world where everything seems to be increasingly polarised with one side raging against the other, with apparently little attempt to understand why opposing views are held.  The middle ground seems to be disappearing, and with it, the notion of empathy.

Social research is often confusing and contradictory, especially in the mental health arena and, in particular, with respect to the impact of social media on young peoples’ lives.  However, it doesn’t take a great deal of imagination to recognise social media’s potential for bullying, passive aggression and general dissatisfaction during a child’s formative years.  Furthermore, complex algorithms used by social media platforms intentionally match people with others with similar attitudes and interests thus giving individuals the impression their views are universal and alternative points of view wrong. This is confirmation bias on a wide scale and leads to a narrowing of outlook and more deeply entrenched beliefs.  Ultimately it promotes a lack of understanding, tolerance and compassion, which are the foundation stones of a civilised society.

I can’t claim that Sweep can solve the world’s ills but, in some small way, it may help promote empathy in children by providing them with an increased understanding of themselves and help them recognise entrenched and unhelpful behaviour when it occurs in others.  It may also provide them with the tools to break the cycle of anxiety and anger by demonstrating a better and happier way forward.  In this regard the key to Sweep’s success is the joyous resolution of Ed’s bad mood.  Just as it threatens to overwhelm everything and everyone, a gust of wind simply blows it away and happiness prevails!  Another confession – the original ending I intended was an all-enveloping catastrophe but my editor convinced me that might be too hard a lesson for young minds and fortunately persuaded me to change it to something more positive and uplifting.

With picture books the prevailing premise is always ‘show, don’t tell’ – words are only half the story.  Sweep owes much of its success to the wonderful detail and rich, witty illustrations by renowned artist Júlia Sardà, which bring the whole story to life.  The humour embedded in the illustrations is absolutely key to the success of the book – it’s hard to be angry while you’re laughing!

In terms of recommended reading for empathy I would suggest anything by Anthony Browne.  His books are always multi-layered, simple stories profound in meaning.  I particularly love Voices in the Park which is 20 years old now. It looks at four different perspectives of the same event.





Thank you so much, Louise for this lovely blog post!



You can buy a copy of Sweep here.


Do you want to curate your own booklist of Empathy-building books? This is the kind of thing you should be looking out for:




To support Empathy Day, you can:

* Join in the social media #ReadForEmpathy campaign across social media platforms

* Attend  The Empathy Conversation evening event with former Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman, poet Joseph Coelho and psychology expert Professor Robin Banerjee, Waterstone’s Piccadilly,  on 11th June at 7pm; tickers are available here

* Buy empathy books from local independent booksellers, and EmpathyLab’s whole empathy book collection for 26% off thanks to Peters Bookselling Services.

*Follow the blog tour of some of the authors and illustrators involved:






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Picture Book of the Week monthly recap: May 2019 Sun, 02 Jun 2019 07:38:59 +0000 SEA: A World Beneath the Waves
Patricia Hegarty & Britta Teckentrup
(Little Tiger Press)

Following the huge success of  Tree, Bee and Moon, this wonderful creative duo are back with a new peek-through
picturebook focusing on the natural world, this time on the world underneath our seas. This is a fabulous theme to showcase Teckentrup’s talent. Her use of colour, texture and her ability to bring the natural world alive on the page in a way that is both meticulously detailed yet simple enough to be appealing to a very young audiences is second to none. The die-cuts and two  recurring little clown fish create a playful effect, and this is accompanied wonderfully by Hegarty’s rhyming text, making it a lovely read aloud. The message about conservation on the last page is beautifully done: subtle, engaging, and encouraging further conversations and action about pollution, it is the perfect way of ending a book celebrating one of Earth’s most fascinating yet most fragile natural habitats.


I Can’t Can Fly
Fifi Kuo
(Boxer Books)

Little Penguin wants to fly. He has wings after all, so why shouldn’t he? Despite everyone’s advice, Little Penguin is adamant he will keep trying; will his perseverance pay? Using a limited palette of blue and black with lots of white space, Kuo depicts the arctic environment and its inhabitants beautifully. It feels cold, and vast. The sketchy style, almost crayon-like, really helps brings Little Penguin’s surroundings to life, as does the use of lines, conveying movement wonderfully throughout. The use of space within the page, and going from lots of white background when on the bank to fully-coloured when underwater is so effective. The underwater spreads are truly amazing. The wordless spread of Little Penguin falling deep in the ocean is absolutely stunning, dark and dramatic, and astutely demonstrating  that emotions are often best expressed when there is little embellishment and plenty of space with the reader to think and feel.  Superb!


The Tide
Clare Helen Welsh & Ashling Lindsay
(Little Tiger Press)

This wonderful picturebook introduces us to a little girl and her grandfather, whose special relationship is sometimes put under strain because of the grandfather’s dementia. The story is told in first person by the little girl, and seen through the eyes of a child, readers are presented with a more raw and honest view of dementia, sometimes with a lack of understanding that young readers will recognise, but filled with emotion and innocence which makes it a particularly poignant read for adults.  The metaphor of the tide to explain the effect dementia has on people’s memories is beautiful, and this theme runs throughout, mirrored in the alternating moments of lucidity and absence from Grandad. The colours are warm and comforting; the spread of them dancing through the waves as the tide comes simply glows with warmth and love. Celebrating family love and support in what can be very dark times, this is a really special book.


The Suitcase
Chris Naylor-Ballesteros
(Nosy Crow)

The most powerful way to put a message across in a picturebook is not by what is being said but by what is left unsaid. You will struggle to find a recent picturebook that illustrates this better and more poignantly than “The Suitcase”. Simplicity both in the text and artwork convey the plea of displaced people and the importance of empathy in a way that is accessible to children. It is impossible not to be deeply moved as an adult when reading this text, with that one wordless spread like a punch in the gut.
The use of colour is wonderful, with each character given its own, including in the typography. Little readers will notice those colours match the newly-built home at the end. Lots of white space throughout gives the reader space to make connections and inferences and the only two spreads without any negative space show his old and new home, filling the page with warmth and contentment. Simply stunning!





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